- Businesses in Florida with more than 25 employees would be mandated to use the E-Verify platform to prove employees are authorized to work in the United States under a bill passed by the Florida Senate on Friday.
- If enacted into law, the bill would require a private employer with 25 or more employees to use the E-Verify system to authenticate the employment eligibility of workers beginning July 1.
- The bill now moves to the Florida House, where it is expected to pass before being sent to the desk of the governor.
As part of the larger immigration reform bill passed by the Senate on Friday, businesses in Florida with more than 25 employees would be mandated to use the E-Verify platform to prove employees are authorized to work in the United States.
If enacted into law, the bill would require a private employer with 25 or more employees to use the E-Verify system to authenticate the employment eligibility of workers beginning July 1.
“You cannot have a country without borders,” said Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, who introduced the bill. “You cannot have a country without laws. So what happens when you have no border and no one is obeying the law? It’s what we have right now. We have an illegal immigration crisis.”
If the Department of Economic Opportunity determines that an employer did not adhere to E-Verify requirements, the company may be subject to a penalty of $1,000 per day until the matter is rectified.
Under current law, only public employers are required to use E-Verify — an online system that checks work eligibility. Public contracts cannot be approved without an E-Verify certificate, and subcontractors working on a public contract must provide the contractor with a sworn statement confirming they do not hire unauthorized immigrants.
As of this year, private employers in seven states – North Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia, Arizona, Alabama, Utah, and South Carolina – are required to utilize E-Verify.
The E-Verify program, initially available for only four years in the five states with the highest populations of unauthorized aliens, has consistently received extensions from Congress. In 2004, the program was expanded to be accessible in all 50 states.
Four years later, the federal government made it a requirement for any entity applying for or maintaining federal contracts to use E-Verify. As of December 31, 2022, over one million employers were enrolled in the system with a usage rate of 16.51 percent, resulting in nearly 300,000 case checks in the calendar year.
Florida alone accounts for more than 80,000 employers on the platform, with more than 66,000 actively enrolled employers as of March 2023.
The E-Verify provision of the immigration bill was taken on as a legislative priority by Gov. Ron DeSantis, who held a press conference in February to outline desired reform measures.
The governor initially sought a sweeping requirement that all employers, regardless of employee count, would be subjected to the E-Verify stipulation, though state lawmakers placed limitations after receiving pushback from small businesses statewide.
“[Lawmakers] reached that number in large part trying to accommodate some of these smaller mom-and-pop shops that would have some challenges coming up to speed on enforcement,” said DeSantis Chief of Staff James Uthmeier.
The bill now moves to the Florida House, where it is expected to pass before being sent to the desk of the governor.